Description from Flora of China
Trees, shrubs, or woody lianas, evergreen or deciduous, rarely subherbaceous. Indumentum of simple hairs, glandular hairs, or multicellular hairs secreting calcium oxalate and forming scales or present beneath cuticle and making leaf blade surface verruculose and sometimes translucent dotted. Leaves opposite, subopposite, whorled, spiraled, or alternate, usually petiolate, estipulate; petiole sometimes persistent and thornlike; leaf blade simple, margin entire or subentire, sometimes toothed, glands often present between crenations of proximal margin and at base or on petiole. Inflorescences terminal, axillary, or extra-axillary, spikes, branched spikes, racemes, panicles, or sometimes capitula, bracteate. Flowers usually regular, rarely slightly zygomorphic, usually bisexual, sometimes bisexual and male flowers present in same inflorescence. Receptacle surrounding and adnate to ovary and extended into a short or long calyx tube dilated distally (together termed "calyx tube" in this treatment); lobes 4 or 5(-8), valvate in bud, persistent or deciduous, sometimes almost absent. Petals 4 or 5, inserted near mouth of calyx tube, imbricate or valvate in bud, conspicuous or not, or absent. Stamens usually 2 × as many as calyx lobes in 2 series, inserted inside distal part of calyx tube, included in or exserted from calyx tube; filaments incurved in bud; anthers dorsifixed, usually versatile, dehiscing longitudinally. Disk usually present, intrastaminal, hairy or glabrous. Ovary inferior, 1-loculed; ovules 2(-6), pendulous, anatropous, usually only 1 developing; style 1, simple, usually free from distal part of calyx tube, subulate to filiform; stigma capitate or inconspicuous. Fruit a pseudocarp, very variable in shape and size, fleshy or dry, 1-seeded, usually indehiscent, often longitudinally 2-5-winged, -ridged, or -angled; endocarp not or at least partly sclerenchymatous. Cotyledons convolute, folded, or twisted. Endosperm absent.
Tan et al. (J. Plant. Res. 115: 475-481. 2002) inferred a phylogeny of the Chinese genera from nuclear, plastid, and spacer sequences based on 16 species in 19 samples. The mangrove genera Lumnitzera and Laguncularia Gaertner were placed as sister taxa in a clade sister to the other genera in China plus Conocarpus Linnaeus. The latter group comprised two clades: one with Conocarpus sister to an unresolved grouping of Terminalia and Anogeissus; the other with Getonia sister to Quisqualis and Combretum.
In this treatment, measurements of calyx tube length include the stipe (if any), the part surrounding the ovary, the tube above the ovary, and the lobes. Measurements of fruit include any ridges or wings.
Hsu Ting-zhi. 1984. Combretaceae. In: Chen Cheih, ed., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 53(1): 1-28.
About 20 genera and ca. 500 species: widespread in tropics and subtropics; six genera and 20 species (one endemic) in China.
(Authors: Chen Jie (陈介 Chen Cheih); Nicholas J. Turland)